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Photo Credit: Mike Gould

FlamesNation Mailbag: here comes main camp!

Rookie camp is well underway and main camp opens up on Wednesday! The 2021-22 season will be upon us before we know it. In the meantime, let’s dive into the mailbag!

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Pospisil’s always been a bit of a project pick: the club loved his developmental ceiling in his draft year, but the thought was that he’d need to find a bit more consistency in order to get there. (Remember how Matthew Tkachuk was, to be blunt, kind of foolish with how he engaged physically in his rookie NHL season and then he figured out the right balance and became a really effective player? That’s what Popsisil kinda needed to figure out.)

The 2020-21 season was a big step forward for Pospisil and put him on the radar. He’s got to show he can be that player over a long sample than just a dozen or so games, though. But it was an excellent start.

The Stockton call-up priority list for forwards right now is probably some combination of Adam Ruzicka, Matthew Phillips, Glenn Gawdin and Byron Froese – three really reliable, consistent AHL forwards, and a really impressive prospect. Pospisil needs to prove that he belongs in that company.

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I’m not really sure why a top player saying top players deserve to get paid well is controversial. If Brady Tkachuk brings the Ottawa Senators oodles of on-ice value, they should give him appropriate compensation for that value. Similarly, if Matthew Tkachuk is the Flames’ top all-around player, he should be paid well for those services. The challenge will be find a balance between his compensation and Johnny Gaudreau’s, should the club be intending to keep both long-term. But top players should get paid like top players.

On the second point, Darryl Sutter came into an established team with an established dynamic and tried to steer the ship in a new direction mid-stream. That’s challenging. Similarly, Tkachuk’s now on his fourth head coach as a Flame, and Sutter was his third different coach in about a season and a half. That’s not ideal when you’re trying to carve out a role for yourself, or if you’re a coach trying to get the team back on track. With a full summer to reset and a full training camp to establish expectations and habits, we can assume their relationship will be better in 2021-22.

It’s way too early to guess who will be the next general manager after Brad Treliving, whether it’s soon or in two years when his contract us up. (Or even later than that.) And a lot of it depends on circumstances. If Treliving can get this team going and then he gets promoted to President of Hockey Operations, for instance, then maybe Craig Conroy gets promoted and becomes GM. If things go completely off the rails, maybe ownership goes scorched earth and we see a whole new management group installed.

As I said: it’s way too early to guess.

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Honestly, if it were up to me I’d do a slew of alternate captains until a definite leader emerges from the pack. (Or failing that, Mikael Backlund.) The gentlemen on Sportsnet 960 The Fan are pretty convinced that the Flames will name a captain, though, so I’m inclined to believe them.

With Connor Mackey (and possibly Andy Welinski) ahead of him in line for call-ups, I think Oliver Kylington’s time with the Flames organization is probably nearing its end. He deserves a fresh start somewhere where he can get a chance to play, and the Flames would probably like to free up a spot on their reserve list. A swap somewhere else would be in everyone’s best interests at this point.

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Honestly, probably not. There are 13 forwards on one-way deals, along with eight defensemen and a goalie. The Flames have 47 players under contract right now. The chance of a PTO coming in, stealing a job, and signing is pretty minimal, and if I were an agent I’d advise my clients to look for gigs elsewhere as a result.

(We’ll likely see the Stockton-signed AHL players in on PTOs, but that’s it.)

I’m a firm believer in Noah Hanifin right now. Chris Tanev was superb, but his age and playing style make it tough to bet on him to maintain that excellence. My guess is Tanev takes a slight step backwards, while Hanifin continues to learn, adapt, and improve.

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